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Why Afterpay and cohorts could confirm the economy bottomed in April

There has been much discussion lately regarding whether we have seen the worst of the economic fallout from coronavirus or if the bottom is yet to come. Could clues lie in the performance of Afterpay and its cohorts?

What can we learn from Afterpay and other ASX FinTechs?  

Afterpay Ltd (ASX: APT), Tyro Payments Ltd (ASX: TYR) and EML Payments Ltd (ASX: EML) have all provided business updates that shed light on how the Australian economy may have bottomed in April. 

Afterpay Business Update 

Afterpay’s business update highlighted that its sales moderated in the second half of March at a Group level. This coincided with the introduction of government-enforced lock-down measures across the world. Global underlying sales in the second half of March versus the first half of March were 4% lower. 

However, the company experienced positive growth in the first two weeks of April, with average daily underlying sales up approximately 10% on the second half of March globally. 

Tyro Payments COVID-19 Trading Update 

Tyro has committed to providing the market with weekly transaction value updates. These transaction volumes are derived largely from its EFTPOs terminals installed at customer cites. It has so far highlighted the following transaction volumes: 

  • January up 27% 
  • February up 30% 
  • March up 3% 
  • April down 38% 
  • May to 15 May down 20%

EML Payments Business Update 

EML’s unaudited Group EBITDA for March was $1.9 million, down 37% on the prior corresponding period. This was significantly impacted by its gift and incentive (G&I) segment reflecting global mall closures. 

While social distancing and lockdown measures continued in April, the group’s unaudited EBITDA was $2.7 million. It expects a gradual reopening of malls in various countries during May and June 2020 onwards. This should represent an improvement to the trading conditions experienced in April.

Is it a Bottom? 

All 3 businesses collect some form of commission from an economic transaction across multiple sectors. Afterpay has broad sector verticals including retail, travel, health, entertainment and services. It operates across Australia, the US and the UK. Tyro Payments provides payment services to over 30,000 Australian merchants. From its prospectus back in June 2019, it cited that 77% of its customers were SMEs and 86% were in health, hospitality and retail sectors. Finally, EML provides G&I services to retailers, general purpose reloadables for salary packaging and gaming and virtual banking accounts.

Recovering revenues from lows in April across these 3 companies may be reflective of a broader improving economy. Sectors such as retail and hospitality have already reopened, albeit at a limited capacity. Meanwhile, other sectors such as entertainment and travel are expected to resume later on this year.

Foolish takeaway

The current challenge is buying shares at today’s prices, as many have already soared on the assumption that we have, in fact, seen ‘the bottom’. If this is not the case, however, and further economic pullback is still yet to come, I believe this would present greater opportunities to buy shares at much more optimal risk/reward levels.

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Lina Lim has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of Emerchants Limited and Tyro Payments. The Motley Fool Australia owns shares of AFTERPAY T FPO. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Emerchants Limited. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Scott Phillips.